Sleep.: auth.: P.Franken

Sleep. 2017 Mar 1;40(3). doi: 10.1093/sleep/zsw077.

Development of Circadian Sleep Regulation in the Rat: A Longitudinal Study Under Constant Conditions.



To better understand the development of sleep, we characterized the development of circadian rhythms in sleep and wakefulness in the artificially-reared, isolated rat pup using an experimental design that minimized the effects of maternal separation.


Neonatal rats were reared in constant conditions (dim red light) while electroencephalographic and electromyographic signals were continuously recorded for up to 3 weeks. This time period spanned the preweaned and weaned ages. The distribution of sleep-wake states was analyzed to estimate the emergence of circadian rhythms.


Overt ~24-hour rhythms in time spent awake and asleep appear by postnatal day (P)17. A marked bi-modal sleep-wake pattern was also observed, evidenced by the appearance of a pronounced ~12-hour component in the periodogram over the subsequent 3 days (P17-P21). This suggested the presence of two ~24-hour components consistent with the dual-oscillator concept. During this 3-day time window, waking bouts became longer resulting in a repartition of the duration of intervals without non-rapid-eye movement (NREM) sleep into short (<30 minutes) and longer inter-NREM sleep episodes. These longer waking bouts did not immediately result in an increase in NREM sleep delta (0.5-4.0 Hz) power, which is an index of sleep homeostasis in adult mammals. The sleep homeostatic response did not fully mature until P25.


These results demonstrate that the maturation of circadian organization of sleep-wake behavior precedes the expression of mature sleep homeostasis.


maturation; neonatal; ontogenesis; perinatal; rhythms

PMID: 28364421